Thursday, June 15, 2017

Pete and I: Reunited!

It almost seemed fated. Ordinarily, I got out for a long walk in mid-afternoon, but my boredom, purposelessness, loneliness, and barely suppressed terror were such this morning that I went out at 10:40, thinking I might walk to Richmond, and there get the train into central London. Maybe I’d go have a look at the tower block that went up no flames 24 hours ago, and be made mindful of how good I’ve got it, comparatively, though depression doesn’t work that way.

I ascended Richmond Hill. Just past the big hotel that’s being turned into luxury flats benefitting (as British estate agents love to say) from (the 19th century painter J.M.W.) Turner’s View. The outlook from my window in Los Angeles’s Park La Brea was actually very much more impressive, and I was more interested this morning in a familiar-looking old gentleman standing at the edge of the road in many layers of clothing in spite of the recent heat wave. He was four inches shorter than the last time I saw him, in 1982, and his blue eyes weren’t mesmerising, as they’d been when I’d first met him, on the stairs leading up to radio station KFWB in Hollywood , 49 years and 10 months ago. I was nonetheless pretty sure he was my one-time idol, Pete Townshend.  “Pete,” I said. He looked at me warily. ‘Twas indeed he.

“John Mendelssohn,” I said, offering him my hand. “Oh!” he exclaimed, though I’d guess there was a 20 percent chance he didn’t remember me (my three appearances in his autobiography and our recent exchange of emails notwithstanding). “Hey!” He shook my hand quite firmly.

I tried to think of something beguiling to say. My early-‘70s attempts to talk Pete into producing my band had inspired Jann Wenner to want to publish our letters back and forth in a Rolling Stone cover story, so I might have winked and wondered, “Had a change of heart about Christopher Milk?” But there wasn’t time. “I’m waiting for a cab,” Pete said, in a tone that made clear he didn’t want to talk. He looked at his phone, as though trying to remember if he had an app that would get someone who’d used to idolise you to bugger off. I took the hint and said, “Nice to see you, Pete,” a little bit sarcastically.

“You too!” he said, relievedly. I sighed and walked on.

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1 comment:

  1. We'll always have the work, eh? The music, that is. In my 'career' as a music writer, record store guy and musician i have had occasion to meet many big names of rock 'n' roll. There have been sublime connections and doomed encounters. Let's put it this way: My estimation of Lou Reed's work was in no way diminished by his having threatened to urinate on me.